School Jotter 4.4 is here

Published: March 31, 2016

If you logged into School Jotter this morning, you might have noticed a few changes. Or perhaps not, a lot of what we’re doing is behind the scenes and designed to make School Jotter run better than ever.

System Changes

  • The way we display graphs has improved in our Surveys, Spellings, MIS Portal, and Merits apps.
  • Stability, performance and security changes.


  • The School Jotter app store can now be accessed via the blue + at the bottom right of the dashboard.

Why not try a new app to enhance the functionality of School Jotter? Many are available on a 30 day, no-obligation FREE trial!

Office 365 Integration

  • Synchronisation has been improved when using multiple Office 365 calendars.
  • Word, Excel and Powerpoint shortcut tiles display when that user has logged in with an Office 365 account.

Does your school use Office 365? Ask your account manager about our School Jotter / Office 365 integration.

Site App

  • Slideshow captions can contain special characters and there is no limit to their length. (If your school’s website doesn’t support customisable header slideshows then call us to discuss getting a theme redesign. We can refresh, update, and modernise your school’s image at the same time!)
  • Improvements to site search security and performance.
  • Changes have been made to help improve SEO.
  • An issue that prevented some of February’s webstat data from loading has been resolved.
  • An issue that affected private page permissions has been resolved.
  • An issue where apostrophes were occasionally shown incorrectly in emails that were sent out has been resolved.
  • An issue where accordions could have an incorrect layout has been addressed.

Have you tried inserting an accordion to your website? It’s great for FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions.)

Broadcast App

  • Reliability of sending SMS text messages has been improved.
  • A character count has been added when composing SMS text messages.

Learn App

  • Admin users can view and manage all learning sites.
  • An issue with the styling of Wiki Resources has been resolved.
  • An issue with the display of Animated Sequence Resources has been resolved.
  • An issue with saving Link Resources in the resource manager has been resolved.

SIMS Integration

  • Users that are disabled in SIMS will now also be disabled in School Jotter upon the next sync.
  • Admins can now choose not to sync email addresses from SIMS for certain user roles. This is really useful if you store parent emails against student records in SIMS.

Purple Mash Integration

  • Single Sign On (SSO) will now work for users that do not have their firstname and surname saved in their School Jotter profile.

Picture Logins

  • An issue where incorrect picture login passwords could be generated has been resolved.

Address Book

  • The address book will now show a count of how many contacts have been selected.

Don’t forget to press the ? icon to the right of your username at any time to bring the help sheets and videos up in an adjacent tab, this is especially useful for the All Apps Help section!

Teaching e-safety with Messages

Published: November 26, 2015

Our Messages app lets students and teachers privately and securely message each other within the School Jotter platform, and is a fantastic communication tool. It can also be used to teach a valuable lesson in staying safe online, as we’re about to show you here.
The crux of this lesson will be that you as a teacher are going to create some fake “spam” messages to send out to your class. Since these aren’t real emails, there’s nothing actually at stake, and the purpose of the lesson is to teach pupils not to trust messages from unknown or suspicious sources. Continue reading

Using tables in School Jotter

Published: November 19, 2015

Tables are one of the most helpful, but also infuriating aspects of web design. They can be invaluable for organising items on your page, but can also be a bit of a headache to set up. Here’s how tables work in the School Jotter interface.
You can insert tables into any regular text object in Jotter, click where you’d like to put your table, then click this button in the toolbar at the top:

The easiest way to put in a table is through the “Insert table” option, mouse over it and this matrix will pop up.

You can then pick how big you want your table to be – bear in mind you’ll need header rows at the top, sides or both. If you’ve used Microsoft Word, this should all be pretty familiar to you.
You can then type the text into the cells which have appeared. You can adjust your table’s properties in various ways. First of all, the Table properties.

By default, the table will fill the width and height of the space you give it, but you can change that here. Additionally, cell padding determines the distance between the cell contents and the cell borders. Alignment determines whether it’s left, centre or right-aligned. Note that, by default, your table will not have any borders – you’ll need to add these in both the table and cell properties menus.
You might also want to take a look at the Advanced tab for some more interesting customisation options. Note that these are also available for individual cells and rows via the other options in the table menu:

If you’re familiar with HTML markup, you can put custom styles in the box at the top – otherwise we recommend leaving this blank. The other options are relatively straightforward – Border width is how wide the cell borders are, Border style is what style they’re in, and the two colour options determine border and background colours of the table.
Some of the more advanced capabilities of the table are available through the Cell, Row and Column menu options. These will allow you to perform actions such as merging cells, for example to provide info like below, for Mr W:

Want to add or remove rows or columns? Again, under the Row and Column options you can insert/remove these. Note that, in the case of inserts, they will be inserted above (rows) or to the left of (columns) your current cursor position.
And that’s pretty much all there is to it! Tables are one of the oldest text items still used on the web, and it’s not hard to see why!

Using the new Jotter Safety Shield button

Published: November 6, 2015

Those of you who logged into School Jotter recently might have noticed a new button in the top right of your dashboard – a shield.

This is Jotter Safety Shield – our latest tool to help you, your students and your staff deal with potentially harmful or offensive content. It’s a free update, included with all relevant School Jotter products, and you won’t have to do anything to activate it – it should have already appeared in your dashboard!
So what does clicking it do?

Continue reading

Managing and embedding calendars in School Jotter

Published: November 5, 2015

We’ve had a couple of people now ask us how to use the free Calendar feature in Jotter Site. It’s a really popular feature, present on hundreds of our websites already, but it can be a bit confusing to set up, so we’re here to guide you through it.
If you’ve ever used a calendar app before, whether it’s Google Docs, Microsoft Outlook or Apple’s Calendar, the interface should be immediately familiar to you, but it can take some time to learn where things are and what they’re known as in Jotter.

It can look a bit daunting at first, so we’ll go over it piece by piece.

  • Add Event – This button, at the top, lets you create an event or reminder
  • Add Calendar – This button lets you create calendars – sort of a category within the main app, that helps with organisation.

And then the options at the side:

  • Your calendars – Your calendars will appear here, you can click them to toggle their display on the panel to the right.
  • Settings – Change the important things
  • Recycle Bin – Where deleted calendars go

We’ll start with Add Calendar – this is the simplest and easiest thing to do, and will really help you with both getting information out and categorising it at the back.

The name is the name of the calendar, and the description is, well, self-explanatory. I’ve categorised mine into “Clubs and Performances”, “Parents’ Evenings” and “PE” – all things parents might like to know about, though of course what you do is your own choice! Next, let’s have a look at Add Event.
This is a bit more complex than the last one, so we’ll go over it bit by bit again.

  • Calendar – Specify which calendar you’d like the event attached to
  • Title – What you want to call the event
  • Start date, start time, end date, end time – When the event will begin and end, or alternatively check All Day for all-day events.
  • Repeat – Set how often the event will repeat, if it’s a repeat event – see below
  • Where – The location
  • Description – What people will see when they click on the event
  • Colour – You can colour-code events to make the calendar a bit easier to read

The Repeat dialog can be a bit daunting, so here’s a run-down of that
Again, we’ll go by it bit by bit:

  • Repeat – whether you’d like it done daily, weekly, monthly or yearly
  • Every – how many of those time intervals should pass between each event
  • Repeat on – which days you’d like
  • Starts – the first instance of the event
  • Ends – The end conditions for it – whether it’s endless, ends on a specific date or after a set number of occurrences.

You’ll get a handy summary at the bottom of what you’ve selected – you can see my event is set to repeat every two weeks on Tuesday and Wednesday for 10 weeks.
Once that’s done, just press Create Event to send it all live. Made a mistake? Don’t worry, by clicking on the event in the calendar view you’ll be able to make edits to specific instances or even entire series of events.
Now let’s take a look at the Settings page. This is where you can start to get really fancy with what you’re doing.

Here you can import or export your calendars to use in whatever app you’d like.

  • Edit details – Change the description or name of a calendar
  • Share – Determine which groups can edit your calendars – you might want to give the PTA special access to an events calendar, for example
  • Export – Export the calendar in iCal format, for use in your app of choice
  • Import – Take an iCal file and put it into Calendar
  • Delete – Remove the calendar to the Recycle Bin
  • Public URL – create a text string you can use to import an automatically-updating calendar feed in your personal calendar app.

Okay, so you have a calendar now, and it’s looking great. Putting it on your website, ePortfolio or Learnsite is really easy, just go to the page in Edit mode and click Insert Item, then Calendar.

Then you’ll see this dialog:

Choose the ones you want to display using the buttons at the top (you can pick more than one!), then click Choose, and there you have it, your calendar is embedded. Anyone can scroll through the embedded calendar using the controls at the top, including viewing things on a per-week or even per-day basis! You can change the default view using the grey bar at the top of the screen when in Edit mode and the calendar is selected.

Want to receive tips like this one straight to your inbox? Sign up here for our free, weekly Jotter tips emails, or contact us at

Infographic: Stopping bullying in schools

Category: Support

Published: November 4, 2015

Bullying is a huge problem in schools (and elsewhere) despite massive strides made in the last few decades. We’ve compiled some of the more shocking statistics about bullying into this useful infographic, which you’re free to use. Click the image for the full-size version.

Continue reading

School Jotter Tips: Adding a gallery to your school website

Published: October 8, 2015

This article originally appeared in email format as part of our Jotter Tips of the Week programme – to sign up for this, click here.
An image gallery can be a great way to show off photos both of your school and events you might hold. It’s a more user-friendly way of showing these than simply displaying them as image files in an endlessly scrolling webpage. Luckily, School Jotter makes it dead-easy to insert image galleries into your website, Learnsite or ePortfolio.
First of all, you’re going to want to make sure you’ve uploaded the images you want the gallery to display. You can do this by going to Manage > My Files > Upload files from the Site editor, or by clicking the Files app in your dashboard. Drag the files into the dialog box that pops up (you might also want to put them in a specific folder, but this is up to you). Once they’re all sitting there, click “Start upload” and they should do just that. Press “OK” to finish.

That’s actually the hardest part of this task done! All you have to do now is go to the page you want the gallery to be on while in Editing mode, then click Insert > Gallery.

You’ll be asked where you want to put it on the page, then you’ll see the following dialog box pop up. Navigate to wherever it was you uploaded your images and click the blue “select” button on each, then click “Choose”.

The default settings are probably fine, but you can adjust the sizes of the thumbnails, captions and more by using the grey bar which appears at the top of the page when you click on the Gallery in edit mode.

You can adjust the order the images appear in, or add more images, by clicking on the three dots in the grey bar at the top, shown here to the left of “Captions”.

And that’s all there is to it! You can add any image you like to galleries, and you can have as many galleries as you want – use them to make your site look even better.

How to add a new sitemap to your School Jotter 2 website

Published: October 1, 2015

A sitemap is a list of all the pages on your website, which is often organised into a structured hierarchy. It’s useful to have, not only for when people want to be able to find all of the pages, but it helps Google, Bing and other search engines index your site so when people search for you they can easily find it. Continue reading

Making the most of your School Jotter Website

Published: September 25, 2015

By Becky Cunliffe
There are many posts online about how to make a great website, and many similar posts on what to avoid; these tend to be fairly generic. In this blog I’ll summarise some of the key things that, in my opinion, should be considered, and what should be forgotten about, when it comes to school websites in particular.
My top tips:

  1. Remember the Purpose – It’s important to remember what the point of the website is. Is it to encourage parents to use your school? Is it a portal for parents? Is it for students to check for events?
    Remember you may have other systems or sites for these purposes, so link to them rather than try to fit it all on your website.
  2. Make it easy to find – Navigation is crucial and can lose visitors; if it is not easy to see where to go, they may give up.
  3. Planning – Rushing into the site may result in bulky pages, so always try to plan out what pages you are going to have and what should be on them. Don’t forget to use links to try and keep pages short, if they want more information they can go to the additional pages.
  4. Update it – Nothing discourages visitors more than finding an event being advertised that was over 5 years ago, as this creates the impression that the site may no longer be in use. Likewise, try to remove your old website from the web to stop parents ending up in the wrong place.
  5. Use colour – Try to not make the website a textbook. Add some relevant images or colour to the page, but do make sure your page is still readable and easy on the eyes.

I would strongly recommend avoiding the following:

  1. Sound – This can startle visitors and often they will simply mute their speaker. It also asks the question, why do you need that sound?
  2. Animation – Small gifs can be useful but try to avoid anything that changes the whole page, such as leaves falling down the page. This just causes annoyance when trying to view the page and can get in the way.
  3. Several-tiered menus – Keep your navigation to 1-2 submenus only. At a certain point the visitor may be lost, or if its a hover-over menu they may lose their place.
  4. Large files – Keep images, files, videos etc to a smaller size so visitors are not waiting on downloads.
  5. Too much info – Remember, a website is there to show information, but try not to overwhelm it with too many pages. Use the other Jotter Apps and any system or sites you may have, and try to remember what the purpose is of each to avoid duplication.

The new Ofsted website requirements and you – what you need to do next

Category: Ofsted,Support

Published: September 18, 2015

As of this month, new Ofsted guidelines on school websites have gone into force, but it’s a bit confusing what these actually are. We’ve written this blog post to help demystify the changes a bit, and it should be helpful whether or not you’re a School Jotter user.
The main focus of the new requirements is governor disclosure. Basically, you now have to put information on who your governors are, what they do etc onto your website on a publicly accessible page – previously, this was recommended but not compulsory information. So here’s what you’ll need:

  • Name: You’ll need to have the names of your governors – photos can also help, but aren’t compulsory
  • Category: What type of governor are they?
  • Which body appoints them: Who appointed them to their position as governor
  • Their term of office: When will they be serving until? Is it a time-limited or a more permanent position?
  • Committees: The names of any gubernatorial committees they serve on
  • Their positions of responsibility: For example, if they’re the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary etc – what position do they hold?
  • Voting rights: What things can they vote on and how this will influence the school?

Additionally, in order to make sure that any potential conflicts of interest are laid bare, the following information needs to be disclosed to the public:

  • Any relevant business interests: Who they work for – are they part of a company who might benefit from school contracts?
  • Details of positions at other schools: Do they govern any other schools? If not, this doesn’t need to be filled in.
  • Any relationships at the school: If a governor has a relationship to another governor or member of staff at the school, you’ll need to put it down here. This includes spouses, partners and relatives.

Of course, these are just the new requirements – there’s still plenty of existing ones! Take a look at our Ofsted checklist for more information – you can print it out and tick off the areas you’re compliant in to give you a better idea of how you’re doing. Alternatively, perhaps you’d be interested in a free healthcheck by one of our website consultants – you don’t need to be with School Jotter, we’re here to help you!